A Bandana Is the Next-Level Flex You Should Definitely Try (But Not as a Face Mask)
Well before the onset of a global pandemic, Western-inspired menswear was enjoying a 10-gallon-hat-sized moment. Designers like Pyer Moss' Kerby Jean-Raymond and Telfar Clemens mined Western-adjacent imagery for inspiration in powerful, deeply moving collections that underscored the crucial, and often ignored, role Black cowboys played in popularizing the aesthetic now indelibly associated with the American frontier.
Shortly afterward, Raf Simons started referencing the all-American archetype heavily in his collections for Calvin Klein, Demna Gvasalia and co. at Vetements collaborated with heritage cowboy boot brand Lucchese, artists like Lil Nas X helped further spotlight the historical significance of the Black cowboy as part of a moment later excellently dubbed the Yeehaw Agenda, and a bona fide movement swept the nation—or, at least, an extremely online segment of it.
If all that feels like a lifetime ago, I'm with you. (For reference, "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X's viral ode to gleefully mixing Wrangler with Gucci, officially ended its historic 19-week reign atop the Billboard Hot 100 almost exactly a year ago.) But amid the CDC's ongoing recommendation that Americans wear some sort of cloth face covering in public whenever possible, the bandana, an iconic mainstay of Western style has—rightfully or not—roared back into fashion, suddenly sported by dudes who wouldn't know a picket pin from a piggin' string. (Okay, I looked those up.)
Here it's crucial to note that recent research indicates actual masks are still, to no one's surprise, by far the most effective covering when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus. Wearing a bandana as a face mask alternative is ill-advised, though certainly better than nothing. As a makeshift headband, however, a means of keeping newly-long lockdown tresses in check, or, hell, worn as a neckerchief to accent any outfit that needs a little added oomph, a bandana couldn't be a better play.
The humble accessory has come a long way since its original ties (heh) to all sorts of masked banditry, and if you were on the fence about embracing the look way back in 2019 you've now got functional reasons galore to start rocking one with impunity. Giddy-up, partner.
Paisley Bandana by CAROLINA MFG.
A classic paisley pattern is never a bad play.
Peace from the Sun Bandana by REI CO-OP
Peace be with you. (And with you, sir!) rei.com
Paisley Bandana by URBAN OUTFITTERS
Paisley part dos, this time done up in a lightweight black cotton. urbanoutfitters.com
'Bloom Wildly' Bandana by UNITED BY BLUE
A campaign slogan for the crunchiest of candidates. rei.com
Moth and Moon Bandana by UNITED BY BLUE
The only type of bug I'd let linger anywhere near my personal space. rei.com
Paisley Bandana Pack by LEVI'S
A trio of paisley options from a master of timeless American style. amazon.com
Tie-Dye Bandana by URBAN OUTFITTERS
Like I said before: The best way to embrace a trend you're on the fence about? (Like, say, tie dye?) Take it slow by starting with an accessory. (Like, say, this one here.) urbanoutfitters.com
Printed Bandana by STAN RAY
A surprisingly refined take from an icon of American workwear. verishop.com
Wallace & Barnes Superfloral Bandana by J.CREW
Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...a superfloral?! jcrew.com
Wallace & Barnes Patterned Bandana by J.CREW
Made out of organic cotton good for you and your IG fits game (and the planet, too). jcrew.com
Organic Cotton Bandana by Bandit
Stay wild, Ponyboy. rei.com
Farmed Cotton Bandana by BUCK MASON
Farm-to-table fits, baby. buckmason.com
Charcoal Silk Maze Bandana by MICHEL MEN
Careful, fellas. Don't get lost in there. michelmen.com
Rodeo Cotton Bandanna by RRL
It probably comes as little surprise that RRL currently makes some of the best bandana options on the market. This type of shit is the brand's bread and butter, and boy does it look freshly baked. ralphlauren.com
Disco Coaching Bandana 55 by HERMÈS
Or you could stop playing around and go straight to the source of some of the best damn silks on the planet. The next, next-level flex, if you will. hermes.com
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.